Opening Day Observations – Cards 13-5

On Opening Day, the Cardinals 17-hit offense led them over the Philadelphia Phillies by a 13-5 score Monday afternoon.

The St. Louis Cardinals defeated the Philadelphia Phillies by a 13-5 score at Citizens Bank Park in the season opener Monday afternoon. Scott Rolen had three hits, including a grand slam, while Albert Pujols had two home runs and four RBI and Aaron Miles had a single, two doubles and a triple. Chris Carpenter went five-plus innings, allowing four runs.

Hancock dials down in Philly
New reliever Josh Hancock changed to number 32 from his 67 issued during spring training. No one is expecting Steve Carlton-like results from him, however.

So stash
Outfielder So Taguchi looks to be growing a bit of facial hair – a wisp of a moustache.

Thumbs down on bew batting helmets
Like the Mets the other day, several of the Phils sported new batting helmets with vented louvers that may increase comfort, but makes them look a little bit like Klingons. At least the Phillies didn't make their helmets dual-colored to accent the indentations like the Mets.

Eight newcomers and four first-timers
Josh Hancock, Aaron Miles, Juan Encarnacion, Braden Looper, Ricardo Rincon, Sidney Ponson, Scott Spiezio and Gary Bennett suited up for their first regular season game in the Cardinals uniform. In addition, Adam Wainwright, Skip Schumaker, Brad Thompson, John Rodriguez are making their first opening day in red.

Spivey designated for assignment
It takes 72 hours for a player to clear waivers. As a result, we may not know of second baseman Junior Spivey's fate for another day or two. If he clears, he can either become a free agent or opt to report to Memphis. He will be paid no matter what.

The match-up
Chris Carpenter faced Jon Lieber.

The line-up
Eckstein, Encarnacion, Pujols, Edmonds, Rolen, Taguchi, Molina, Miles and Carpenter.

On to the game…

Cards first – First blood
After a couple of strikeouts, Albert drew a walk. Edmonds shot Lieber's first offering into the right field corner to score a hustling and sliding Pujols. Edmonds alertly moved up to third on the throw home to drive in the Cards first run of the 2006 regular season. Rolen fanned for the third out. Cards 1-0.

Phils first – Infield defense hustling and hurting?
Against Jimmy Rollins, Eckstein and Rolen chased a foul ball down the third base line foul area. Eckstein caught it, but his right knee hit the concrete base of the stands as he slid. There was no appearance of injury, but it had to hurt. Bobby Abreu singled with two out, but was stranded. Between innings, Head Trainer Barry Weinberg checked Eckstein out on the bench.

Cards second – Miles ahead
Aaron Miles singled up the middle with two out, but as often happens, the #8 man didn't advance.

Phils second – Defensive miscommunication?
Edmonds got a glove on Pat Burrell's shot to the wall in right center, but seemed to shy away a bit with Encarnacion bearing down, too. But, the run was stranded in scoring position.

Cards third – Pujols goes out
Albert slammed a high, inside fastball out to left field with two down. He did stop to admire it for a second, which I wish he wouldn't do. When Pujols returned to the bench, he seemed unhappy. The rest of us will take it, though. Cards 2-0.

Phils third – Nunez tries to inflict damage
Former Cardinal Abraham Nunez doubled the other way into the left field corner with two down. But, Pujols snared Abreu's screaming liner to end the threat.

Cards fourth – Rolen makes ‘em boo twice
The Cardinals sent 12 men to the plate. Rolen led off the frame with a single past short. The locals loudly expressed their displeasure, but were a bit happier when So traded places via a fielders choice. Molina singled the other way to put runners on the corners. Miles tripled to left center to clear the bases. Carpenter brought more boos as he first-pitch singled to left to score Miles. Eckstein lofted a broken-bat single over short. Encarnacion singled, too, to load the bases. Carp didn't pick up his coach well and almost caused Eckstein to be caught as he motored past second though the pitcher was stopped at third. With Pujols coming up, Lieber was pulled from the game in favor of Julio Santana. Pujols slammed a full-count pitch to the warning track in dead center. All three runners moved up. Edmonds was walked intentionally to reload the bases. Bad idea as Rolen got a pitch up and in. It landed somewhere up in the seats in left. Pujols and Edmonds grinned from ear to ear. So followed with a double to left before Molina popped out. In the drizzle, local "fans" left in droves. Cards 10-0.

Phils fourth – No shutout
Pat Burrell answered with a blast similar to Rolen's. Except it was a solo shot, that is. Rolen made a nice stop in foul territory, but his throw was low and off line to Pujols. With two out, Mike Lieberthal followed with a single to put two on. Pinch-hitter and ex-Cub Alex Gonzalez flied out. Cards 10-1.

Cards fifth – Baker's dozen
Miles doubled off the sliding first baseman, Ryan Howard, leading off against the new pitcher Aaron Fultz. Carp bunted him over to third and Eckstein brought him home with a sac fly to right. Encarnacion reached on a nubber in front of the plate and he scored on an upper deck shot to left. This time, Pujols smiled. I think I even saw Dave Duncan grin, believe it or not. Cards 13-1.

Phils fifth – Hunt and peck
Abreu singled to left with two out and Chase Utley doubled him home. Miles' relay was weak and off-line. He is 3-for-3 at the plate so far, though. Cards 13-2.

Cards sixth – Nothing home
Rolen reached for the third time with a single to deep short, but Taguchi doubled him up on the next pitch. Molina sharply singled to center. Miles was finally retired on a pop up to his alternate number.

Phils sixth – Howard hammers
Ryan Howard went deep on a opposite-field shot to left. A Rowand single ended Carp's day. Randy Flores allowed a single to put runners on the corners. Rollins scored Rowand on a sac fly to deep center. Cards 13-4.

Cards seventh – Schu joins hit parade
Skip Schumaker reached on a little comebacker that pitcher Geoff Geary struggled with. Eckstein forced him at second, then Encarnacion ground into a twin-killing.

Phils seventh – Not giving up
After Flores fanned Abreu, Utley singled up the middle with one out. He was relieved by Josh Hancock, who served up an RBI double to Burrell. Cards 13-5.

Phils eighth – Losers can still cheer
Adam Wainwright pitched fast and looked good, fanning new Phillie David Dellucci. But, with two down, Jimmy Rollins doubled past first base to extend his hitting streak to 37 games, but he stayed right there.

Cards ninth – Miles at it again
Miles doubled into the left field corner for his fourth hit, three of which were for extra bases. He was erased on a comebacker to the pitcher, former Cardinal Rheal Cormier.

Phillies ninth – Thompson ends it
Brad Thompson took the mound. With one out, Utley hit a ball near the top of the wall that just eluded a leaping Schumaker, but that was it.

Upcoming action (times CDT)
Tuesday: Open date – Workout at 11am
Wednesday @ Phils: Mark Mulder vs. Brett Myers 6:05pm FSNM/ESPN
Thursday @ Phils: Jason Marquis vs. Cory Lidle 2:05pm FSNM
Friday @ Cubs: Jeff Suppan vs. Greg Maddux 1:20pm FSNM
Saturday @ Cubs: Chris Carpenter vs. Carlos Zambrano 1:20pm FSNM
Sunday @ Cubs: Sidney Ponson vs. Sean Marshall 7:05pm ESPN

Brian Walton can be reached via email at brwalton@earthlink.net.

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